АвторAuthor: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation:
2 June 2022
Oleksandr Stepanov was an ordinary web developer in one of top-notch Kyiv companies. He even travelled to Central Asia as a Christian missionary. He returned to Ukraine during the Revolution of Dignity just when the fighting on Hrushevskoho Street started and inmediately joined revolutionary activities. Oleksandr was a member of the First Kyiv Hundred of the OUN named after Yevhen Konovalets on the Maidan. That was the time when he joined the ranks of Ukrainian defenders. So when the Russian invasion began, Oleksandr without hesitation went to the front. He regrets that he did not have time to get to Mariupol. One day his life was literally saved by a pine tree.
My war history began in the May of 2014. Then I went to war as a volunteer. Initially, I joined the Zoloti Vorota (Golden Gate) battalion which defended cities Shchastia, Sabivka, Vesela Hora, and Sievierodonetsk. And in December of the same year I moved to the famous Azov regiment.
The most interesting thing is that I left it only on January 31, 2022, three weeks before the full-scale war has started. Unfortunately, I did not have time to get from Western Ukraine to Mariupol when it all started. I reached only Kyiv, where I joined the 72nd Separate Mechanized Brigade (hereinafter – SMB). I believe that the guys will get out of Mariupol and I will finally join them later. Honestly, I went to the frontline because by and large, we have no choice or other right decision. We need to defend Ukraine.
I was motivated by the fact that murderers, executioners, occupiers, looters, rapists came to us, who are killing my people and destroying our cities. A Ukrainian must be a warrior and defend their native land, people, family. Especially when they have learned to fight for 8 years. That’s why I’m in the ranks, because behind us are our cities, our families. It is my duty to protect the country from another red invasion.
My grandma’s stories about Holodomor and all the horror of WWII she went through etched in my memory for ever. Back then, I already knew who my enemy was.
There’s nothing to be afraid on war, even injury or death is expected although terrible thing. In all the years I took part in the anti-terrorist operation, I have never been wounded, and here in just half a month I was seriously injured at the front.
It was a battle for the village of Moshchun, Kyiv region. It is also known as “Ukrainian Verden”. All night and all day we were beaten by artillery and I’ve never seen a shelling like that. Everything burned – from horizon to horizon. Literally every building was caught in fire. In the morning, Russian infantry started the offensive through the forest; they wanted to surround us. We heard their cries and commands and shouted in response: “Russian pigs, surrender!” Then we shouted something about bottles but heard only curses in response. We opened heavy fire and repulsed this first attack.
Later, we heard armament rumbling…a lot of armament. It was good that I had a UAV (drone), which I launched and found out that the enemy was already 260 meters around us in a column of eight airborne assault vehicles (hereinafter – AAV). They wanted to surround us again.
Coordinating the battlefield from the sky, we took out the tanks and prepared such a meeting (with the help of the gods of war) that no unit of enemy equipment returned home! So did the infantry that remained forever in the woods near Kiev. But half an hour later they began to take revenge and “covered” me with heavy 120 mm mortars.
First mortar shell flew behind my back and hit a big pine tree. The fragments broke my left foot, I fell and began to apply a tourniquet. If it weren’t for that pine, I would be 100% dead, it flew too close. One of the next shells torn my right calf and then my hand was hit as well. Fragments hit and torn me, shells fell very close and threw me off the ground. The house under which I was lying was already on fire and covered me.
Then I just rolled upon my back to see the sky and felt how life was leaving me. But it wasn’t scary it was a pity to upset my wife and parents. However, it was still lonely to lie alone on the battlefield.
After 40 minutes of shelling, my group reached me and spent another 2 hours “patching”me in the neighboring yard under fire, because the evacuation vehicle could not pass. Guys had to carry me to the checkpoint under mortar fire where I was finally taken to the hospital. As a result, I have injured legs and a hand, various concussions, cerebral concussion, traumatic brain injury and they have minus one column with personnel. So I emerged as a victor from this battle, although I was injured.
Now all my dreams are about my family and my wife. It’s because we didn’t have enough time to enjoy family life. We got married only last summer. I had just arrived from the front line, got married and returned there three days after wedding. So when all this comes to end I will come back, build a house in a suburb and finally feel the taste of quiet family life close to my loved one.
Чому важливо поширити цю історію?
Якщо українці не розповідатимуть свій погляд на війну в Україні, світ поступово забуватиме про нас. Натомість цим обов’язково скористаються росіяни. Тому не даймо їм жодного шансу.
Why is it important to share this story?
If Ukrainians do not share their views on the war in Ukraine, the world will gradually forget about us. Instead, the Russians will definitely take advantage of this. So let's not give them a chance.
АвторAuthor: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation: